As we celebrate 30 years of school chaplaincy in 2020, we wanted to honour some of our incredible chappies who have defined what it means to be there for the long-haul in supporting the next generation.
For almost as long as we’ve had chaplaincy in Queensland schools, students, staff and families at Burnside State High have been blessed by Chappy Matt Brady.
He is SU QLD’s longest-serving chaplain and has been supporting the Sunshine Coast school community of Burnside High for 25 years.
Matt says he’s inspired by the resilience of the kids he sees at school every day.
“When you hear their stories, see the pain in their eyes and the heartbrokenness on their face – but they keep going – that’s what inspires me,” Matt says.
“I really think the kids of this generation have got it really tough, and I felt a calling to chaplaincy to see if I could help alleviate some of that; to show kids that life doesn’t have to go in one direction and they can make positive choices for themselves.
“Media, advertising and society are telling kids ‘who they are’ – and how they need to act. I think kids need someone to bat for them and help them take hold of who they are for themselves.”
When asked about some of his strongest memories from his time as a chappy, Matt says one particular student stood out.
“I met Aleaha when she was in Grade 9, she came and talked to me because she’d had a little to do with the chaplain at a previous school,” Matt recalls.
“She had a very hard life – through some circumstances and being removed from her home, she became suicidal and was cutting herself.
“One day the principal rang me and said Aleaha was out on the road in front of the school; she was fighting off staff trying to throw herself under a bus.
“I can’t remember what I said that day over the phone, but she says that whatever I said made a difference and stopped her at that moment from wanting to kill herself.
“Following that incident we started catching up more regularly and I connected her with professional support services outside the school. She’s now studying to become a teacher.”
Matt says having a chaplain in the school is key, so that kids have someone they can talk to about anything that’s on their mind.
“It’s a unique position. Kids don’t see us as part of the system – so they’re more comfortable approaching us and coming to talk to us,” Matt says.
“We’re the only people in school whose sole job is listening to kids, and that’s really important.”
There’s currently multiple chaplaincy positions in schools right across Queensland. If you love working with children and young people, and are feeling called to a career where you can make a positive difference to the next generation visit suqld.org.au/morehands!
“If you are feeling called and compelled to follow chaplaincy – don’t hesitate,” Matt says.
If you’re interested and feel called to chaplaincy – there are various roles open right across Queensland. To find out more about pursuing a career in chaplaincy, visit www.suqld.org.au/morehands